I have nothing good to say in my cartoons,” admitted American cartoonist Daryl Cagle addressing JJ School of Art students in Mumbai. Cagle, the editorial cartoonist for msnbc.com was in the city as part of a lecture tour organised by the US Consulate.
The auditorium was packed as captivated students sat on the floor with sketchbooks ready at hand to listen to him explain the art of political cartooning. Cartooning, he said, is a way of “expressing opinion graphically rather than through words”. When one student asked him about the technology he uses to draw his cartoons, he explained the technical details and then said, “I still think my art looks better when drawn on paper instead of a tablet.”
Cagle, a Santa Barbara (USA) resident, has been drawing political cartoons since the 1970s. He revealed that he has been in trouble several times because of the content of his cartoons. “Certain subjects like religion, abortion, gun control and Israel offend people,” he said. “People get angry faster at a cartoonist than at those who write the words (in an article).”
But he insisted that there is still freedom of the press in the USA. He has an unusual way of judging that. “If in a country you can draw the President, then there is freedom of press,” he said.
“I know cartoonists in Singapore who say that we can draw anything so long as it is not about Singapore. You don’t see a cartoon about Fidel Castro in Cuba, they go outside Cuba and draw it. In Egypt, they would not let you draw a cartoon about (Hosni) Mubarak,” he said. “It is easier to draw funnier characters. George W Bush is funnier than (US President Barack) Obama.”
Though Cagle has lampooned several prominent Americans, including George W Bush, and the Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, he does draw the line when it comes to using four-letter words. “I am not motivated to use them,” he said.